Images of the Pacific tend to invoke the exotic: hula dancing girls, leis, palm trees, and a getaway vacation. This year at the Festival we are showing films that show these islands are not just vacation destinations, they are homes to real people with their own troubles and successes. As part of our Pacific Island Visions program we are featuring films such as THERE ONCE WAS AN ISLAND, PAPA MAU: THE WAYFINDER and KNOTS that show contemporary life in the Pacific.
Briar March / USA / 2010 / 57 min / English / Color
The sea levels are rising in a small atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Things are about to get real for the Takū people as they face an ultimatum: leave the island or find better ways to survive. Intimate family discussions and rousing community debates show that their livelihood is slowly becoming endangered due to climate changes and rising sea levels. Should they go to the mainland where they will eventually face pressures of earning money and losing their culture and religion? Or should they stay in the homes their hands have built and trust in their creator? Directed by Briar March, this film captures the vulnerability of the Takū people who want nothing more than to preserve their culture and traditions but are being disillusioned by the government’s response during their time of need.
Na’alehu Anthony / USA / 2010 / 57 min / English / Color
In the 1970s, the Polynesian art of seafaring and canoe-building rejuvenated the people of Oceania. This spurred a new crop of navigators to go on an epic voyage using celestial navigation. But who would teach the new navigators how to cross the ocean without a compass or maps? In the Micronesian island of Satawal they found Mau Pialiug, who was born into the wayfinding tradition. With Mau as their guide and the ship Hōkūle’a as their vessel, the new crop of Hawaiian navigators were able to survive their trip to Tahiti in 1978. Filmed by Na’alehu Anthony, this oral history will take you along on their voyage as they help you discover how one man was able to bridge the gap between ancient traditions and a new generation of people looking for their cultural identity.
Michael Kang / USA / 2011 / 77 min / English / Color / San Jose Premiere
Opening the San Jose leg of the festival comes a romantic comedy called KNOTS by Michael Kang who shows his versatility as a director who brought us film noir about NYC Koreatown West 32nd back in SFIAAFF ’08. Kimberly Rose-Wolter stars (who also wrote and produced) as Lily who comes back to Hawaii after her relationship breaks down in LA. Her family of two sisters and a mother run a successful wedding-planning business–which is ironic due their romantic failures. Her pregnant sister Twinny (Mia Riverton) has a husband who is rarely there, Hoku (Janel Parrish) has the hots for Kai (Sung Kang) who happens to be Lily’s ex-boyfriend, and their mother Miriam (Illeana Douglas) believes that marriage is for everybody else except her. In this cast of colorful characters, Kang and Rose-Wolter have created a narrative about the weaving of ties that bind us to each other, as the title suggests.
Tadashi Nakamura / USA / 60 min / English / Color / World Premiere
Produced by CAAM and Pacific Islanders in Communication, the Jake Shimabukuro documentary offers a glimpse of the ukulele virtuoso’s life, coming from a modest background to international superstardom. Tadashi Nakamura provides an insightful portrait of this first-class musician, backstage, at home, on the road, and into his early days. Watch him grow up as a kid who took up ukulele to cope with his parents’ divorce, his progress as a musician where he would soon be discovered by a master, and getting local radio airplay, to performing with stars such as Cyndi Lauper and Yo-yo Ma. As a special treat, he will be performing in the house after the world premiere the movie. Don’t miss it!